IntelliMouse phones home

By Brian Livingston

I’ve seen several comments from readers about versions of Microsoft’s IntelliMouse software — its configuration utility for pointing devices — trying to quietly establish an Internet connection. For example, Bill Kennedy sent in the following description of his experiences:

  • “Here’s something that caught my eye after I changed my firewall to Outpost a few weeks back, which traps outbound IP sniffs. It has to do with the MS IntelliMouse Pointer.exe program attempting to contact MS via ports 453x at regular intervals.

    “Sometimes it’s an MS IP address, and sometimes it’s, which appears to be a clone of whatever the current home page is at that time. [Note: At present, the origin2 URL re-directs to Microsoft’s Windows Update page. —Brian L.] Needless to say, I’ve permanently blocked Pointer.exe from hitting the Internet.

    “Perhaps you can find out why it is doing this surreptitious nonsense (I would like to use a much stronger word), as well as why MS does not tell us!”

Everyone is justifiably worried about programs that try to contact a server on the Internet without the knowledge and permission of the PC owner. But in this case, the “phone home” behavior seems to be caused by IntelliMouse’s “auto update” feature, not a privacy or security threat.

I should note that there are several IntelliMouse products that have been sold by Microsoft over the years, many of which are now obsolete. (Some wags suggest that many of these products were obsolete when they first came out.) For example, the Basic IntelliMouse and IntelliMouse with IntelliEye have been discontinued for some time. Microsoft now sells the IntelliMouse Explorer, IntelliMouse Optical, Wireless IntelliMouse, and so forth. Each of these products is a hardware pointing device with associated software.

The older IntelliMouse’s attempts to contact are caused by its driver file, which is named Pointer.exe. The cure is to download and install a newer driver, which bears a name such as Point32.exe (if available for your model of IntelliMouse).

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